Edited by Janine Berns, Haike Jacobs and Dominique Nouveau
[Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 13] 2018
► pp. 21–39
Givenness and the difference between wh-fronted and wh-in-situ questions in Spanish
In the last fifteen years, the literature on wh-questions has tried to understand speakers’ intuitions regarding the meaning differences between wh-in-situ (WIQs) and wh-fronted (WFQs) questions. The different proposals agree in that WIQs require givenness, but there is no consensus on what notion of givenness is at stake. In this paper I argue that in Castilian Spanish WIQs presuppose that the WIQ is embedded in a specific discourse: what is given then is the (hierarchical) discourse-structure in which the question is embedded. Spanish illustrates a possibility on the spectrum of variation, imposing very specific discourse-structural conditions to allow WIQs. From a broader theoretical perspective, the proposal made in this paper makes a contribution to the study of presupposition, since I argue that there are conventional linguistic devices that target discourse-structure.
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